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Interview Preparation


Biometric Data

GPS Data



While you’re in the field, you will be talking directly with participants, asking them about the space, and trying to guide the conversation toward the aspects of their neighborhood that resonate with them. Rather than writing out an interview guide or creating a list of assumptions to test, we suggest visiting the community you’re interested in beforehand, and developing a sense of the space. The goal is to be familiar enough with the area to keep up in conversation with your participants. 

Additionally, you might conduct some secondary research: 

  • What seem to be the priorities of the community? 

  • What makes the news? 

  • How do others perceive the community?


  • We recommend using a GoPro camera for this aspect of the research. The camera is light-weight, durable, and the controls are user-friendly. Another great aspect is that there is no viewfinder or screen, so participants are less likely to focus on the act of recording. We’ve also found that with a handheld camera participants feel more control over the footage, and can also choose to discretely cover it if they enter a situation where a camera feels unwelcome.
  • Be sure the camera is charged and you are familiar with the buttons and functionality. 


For this aspect of the data collection, there are a few options out there, including consumer-friendly heart-rate monitors. Civic View makes use of the BITalino system, as it’s affordable and offers the ability to choose between three different types of biological data: 

  • Electrocardiography (ECG): a measure of the electrical activity of the heart 
  • Electrodermal activity (EDA): a measure of electrical conductance of the skin
  • Electromyography (EMG): a measure of the electrical activity of muscles

We’ll focus on either ECG or EDA, as they are the clearest ways to understand how excited someone is. That excitement can range from positive or negative though, which is why we are also using qualitative data, such as the video transcription. 

  • To begin, you will need to download Open Signals, the software needed to capture and display the data. If you’re using a Windows machine, you can find that software here. If you’re using a Mac, then you’ll be using the beta version of the software, OpenSignal (r)evolution which you can find here
  • Get to know the BITalino board. Getting started is easy. Open the software and turn the board on. You’ll need to pair the device to your computer through Bluetooth. You can find the quick start guide to do so here
  • Once the board is paired with your computer, find the three stranded wires. They look like this:
  • Find the ECG section of the board and snap the wires in. 
  • Next, you will test the board by taking a measure of your own heart activity. Attach three pre-gelled electrodes (your SparkFun kit should come with enough electrodes to test) to the left side of your chest in this arrangement:


  • Once you have the electrodes in place, snap the middle strand of the wires onto the middle electrode on your chest ("I" in the diagram). This is the ground wire. The other two wires can go on either of the other two electrode pads. 
  • Press record in the OpenSignals application. 
  • You should begin to see readings almost immediately. Take note of which panel is showing heart rate data, as the panels don’t always match the output from the board. The data should look similar to this:
  • Test the fidelity of the connection by trying to alter your heartbeat and noticing the effects on the data. For example, you can increase the speed of your breathing, or jump up and down for 30 seconds. Try a variety of activities and note how the data changes. 
  • This entire process can be repeated for EDA readings. To test these readings, attach two electrodes to your hand in the D and E pattern:


  • Plug in the wires with two strands to the EDA output. Snap the wires onto the electrodes. Position doesn’t matter.
  • You should see data immediately. Test the connection and take note of how your physical activity affects the data. 
  • If you have access to a 3D printer, we recommend printing a case for your board, after you’ve gotten familiar with the settings and inputs. If you choose to print a case you can find a basic file here. Your final product will look like this:
  • Before you get out in the field decide whether you’ll be conducting your own analysis of the biometric data. If you decide to conduct it yourself, you’ll want to save files as .H5, which is the default. If you decide to submit the data to Civic View without analysis, then switch the data output from .H5 to a .txt file. The BITalino software will then generate a JSON file, which includes a time stamp. 
  • Lastly, you will likely need to purchase additional pre-gelled electrodes. While most electrodes will work, you can find our recommendation here


This is the easiest element of the method to set up. All you need is a smart phone. We recommend using Moves as your GPS tracker. The application is available for both iPhone and Android mobile devices, and has options to enter in additional descriptive data. Additionally, the process of exporting data is simple, and will grant you access to the raw data you’ve generated during your field work.